Monday 23 March 2015

Fossil Hunting.

Firstly apologies for the extremely poor quality of this shot...I have a newish phone and never either having owned a phone with a camera nor slide screens frankly I am currently like a learner driver behind the wheel of a car the first time! My old faithful Nokia had buttons...Stoneage technology...perfect for a Luddite like me but occasionally I allow myself to be dragged forward by a few years...kicking and screaming mind you!

This little lovely is a fossilised sea urchin or an echinoid to give it its proper name. Sadly not mine but spied on a recent visit to see chums. Another one was spotted yesterday belonging to chum H. I had heard of people finding them in the  chalk on the Downs and others at Bracklesham Bay. Aha I thought well I've not been to the beach for a long time and never knowingly visited this one so we shall grace it with our presence. Now it pays to do your research when the last time you collected fossils was with your Dad down at Lyme you may have gathered a few years have passed.....naturally then I did no such thing, but with the spirit of adventure coursing through my veins, hopped into the car and set off expecting the beach to be liberally spread with examples of my quarry. I had romantic visions of bringing them home for loved ones. The first thing you need to check is that it's a Spring tide so that the fossil beds are exposed......yes well it was a Neap tide so they were most definitely underwater. Talking to a local he admired my pretty collection of stones but my heavy dinosaur bone turned out to be a piece of heavy iron pyrite or fool's gold to you and me, the fossilised lines in another stone were sedimentary rock lines only and our "shark's tooth" was a bit of flint. As you may have already guessed I returned home with some lovely hag stones but alas not with what I had set out for. On this occasion the only old fossil coming home was me but I shall not be deterred...I shall keep my eyes peeled.

Round here these are called Shepherd's Crowns. Thought to be reminiscent of the Bishop's Mitre in shape they were carried by the men as a good luck amulet and protection against lightning. Their significance can be traced right back to a Neolithic burial in Whitehawk near Brighton in which the skeleton of a woman was discovered- by her side was a fossilised sea urchin. Reading the information on the Natural History Museum site they were known as fairy loaves in a time when bread was an essential part of the diet people kept them in their hearth as a talisman to ensure they would always have loaves. Other names they go by are Sugar Loaves and Pixie Helmets. I will let you know when the Goddess looks kindly upon me and I find one!


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